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Content innovation - only way for GECs to capture post IPL viewership

13-May-2013
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Content innovation - only way for GECs to capture post IPL viewership

The post IPL period is always a ripe season for GECs to get into action mode. The TV industry is all set to be geared up as soon as the IPL season ends. IPL 6 has been turbulent in terms of audience segmentation, where Star Plus managed to be on the top but was displaced periodically by Set Max. GECs are prepared to launch new shows in fiction and reality genre. While Colors is coming up with a dance reality show Jhalak Dikhlaja, Sony is coming up with Indian Idol Junior and historic serial Maharana Pratap. Star Plus is launching Mahabharata. Life OK will be launching a fiction show called Do Dil Ek Jaan.

The question is what is different? PM Balakrishna, COO, Allied Media said, “GECs are expected to launch tried formats across the globe, which have been a success. They do experiment a little, but mostly rely on tested formats. As of now, I don’t see much innovation happening on this front. Although, I do accept that content needs to be seriously worked on. IPL season gives a window for channels to think and they should do the same.”

Market experts say that more audience-based shows will be aired in the future but this is not new. Although, new shows are launched, but they stand nowhere on the parameters of innovation.

Except a few, most channels come up with shows that rely on set audiences, set mindsets, and do not experiment, which is not good for the growth of the industry. Most of the shows are emulation of the global shows, but locally there is no uniqueness in them.

Amin Shekhar, Independent Media Analyst said, “I agree that it is a matter of TRPs, but there should also be an element of innovation. A mythological serial on one channel is countered by another mythological serial or a historic channel. More and more channels are coming up with a same content repackaged again. Look at the amount of dance shows, reality shows, singing shows, typical soaps, etc. I would call shows like Satyameva Jayate, KBC, Crime Patrol an innovation, although they were not the first across the globe to do it. Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi was an innovation in early 2000. We need something different now. I am not saying that the other shows are bad, but I don’t see a show which sets a trend in the industry.”

Some market analysts also feel that the audiences are not very evolved as of now. They might not reward innovation to a great extent. Too much clutter and channels have spoilt the customer, and therefore, it is difficult to grab attention. In order to grab eyeballs, channels confine themselves to tested formats and do not rely much on innovation.

“It requires guts to do something different and innovative. Colors were an example initially. To be fair, some formats are successful and nobody would like to tamper with them and they rely upon improving such formats to a great extent. There have been many trendsetters earlier, but it requires a great level of insights, courage to do something like that. For some time, I don’t see much difference in the approach of channels,” said Hiren Pandit, Managing Partner, Group M.

So is it time for channels to be more creative? Agrees Sonal Dabral, Chairman and CCO, DDB Mudra, “There is always an excuse with content creators that this is what the audience wants. But being experts themselves, I think TV writers and producers need to spend more time in R&D and not always show content which is a mere adaption of the global successful series. Audiences have evolved and they would accept content which is new, all it needs is right presentation. I am not denying realities that there is money involved and RoI is more in focus while designing such concepts. But somebody will have to take an initiative and change this. Quality of programmes should be enhanced. If a country like Holland can create content for many across the world to emulate, then why not us!”

Market experts have always highlighted that the GEC business would augment post digitisation. As it is widely perceived that the money spend on distribution front would be significantly curtailed, and the amount saved would be spent on content evolution. Uday Shankar, CEO, Star India, in a statement in FICCI-KPMG report had mentioned “investment in content needs to increase significantly and post digitisation, we can expect culturally different markets to be served customised content”.

The GEC segment which is constantly inundated with ratings pressure and ad-yields is sensitive to market reactions. No matter how much advertisers accepted the innovation and popular quotient of Satyamev Jayate, the matter was back to ratings business.

With the steady evolution of the masses and constant exposure to world-class shows, Indian audiences would expect quality content from Indian GECs as well. It is time for them to focus on R&D for newer formats, in addition to the traditional content servings they offer.

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